It’s one of those ideas deeply embedded in evolutionary theory, or at least some versions of it, that random genetic change that happens to work in a given environment is what underlies the whole show, from the first coming together of organic molecules in the primordial soup to the elaborately beautiful bodies (beautiful because we randomly have evolved to find them beautiful, except for the ugly ones) of well camouflaged insects.
It is incredibly difficult to not suggest intent in evolution when teaching it. I’ve yet to ever watch any natural history program or even materials produced for education that don’t suggest it, over and over again, the reasoning for why a given species has a given trait, what it promotes, or what it defends against, the elegance of interaction between organism and environment, the near perfect fit between organism and ecological niche.
Evolution is not perfect. Perfection is a human construct.
This morning in discussion with a guy about, well, sentience, I suggested that all living organisms possess it, and yes, even plants and bacteria and fungi, all are aware, and self aware, and aware of environment, and all respond to environment, it’s a fundamental characteristic of life. They do it all biochemically, at least inside the body, much of the sensation of stimuli is of different electromagnetic character, but that maintenance of relatively stable conditions that all living things must use energy to do, that’s how we define life, it varies not all that much from organism to organism.
Certainly if we compare how you and I do it to how a pig does it, we will see much more similarity than if we compare ourselves to how a bacterium does it, but when it comes down to it, it’s not all that different. And if we compare how the human brain works to the communications networks present in soils, it’s not very different, not biochemically, not functionally, at all.
It’s all about sensing the environment and responding to it. Bacteria have been doing it for close to 4 billion years; they’re really good at it. Plants have been doing it for hundreds of millions. We’re just learning, relatively speaking.
But being the incredibly arrogant organisms we tend to be, we have decided that only we can make conscious decisions, only we can drive our own evolution (lots of folks hold that to be true, have invested lots of themselves in the idea), that all of life that came before us, all several billion years worth, were the hapless victims of chance.
That carnivorous plants such as the Venus Flytrap developed 1) highly modified leaves with 2) sensitive trichomes that detect insect presence so that 3) hormonal responses could trigger rapid movement of water that would 4) bring those modified leaves together and 5)trap the insects in 6) enzymes that would break down their bodies 7) and provide nutrients like N which are lacking in those 8) waterlogged and swampy soils is all a matter of random chance seems to me just so over the top ridiculous, well, perhaps I just don’t get statistics, or I haven't seen all of those transitional forms in between, and all of the enzymes, which mostly we just imagine must have existed based on the underlying assumptions we've made.
I suppose it could happen, I suppose someone has done the math, so perhaps the underlying assumption of complete random chance is true. It doesn’t change the sentience of the plant, at all, nor the reality of the biochemical workings of the soil, a living entity in itself. It does not change the fact of the Earth, or Gaia, as a living entity in itself.
As for the world of science, such a young world it is, one that fought tooth and nail against a religious establishment through much of its infancy, the degree to which it refuses to even consider ideas outside its own dogmatic way of viewing the world is sad, that it almost never questions some underlying assumptions, is tragic.
Mainstream science, like mainstream education, in our world today, is quite broken.